Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Grass Is Not Always Greener: Turf vs. Grass Study Reveals Some Advantages for Turf Fields

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Grass Is Not Always Greener: Turf vs. Grass Study Reveals Some Advantages for Turf Fields

Article excerpt

Counterintuitive though it may seem, a "natural" grass field may not be more environmentally friendly than a synthetic turf alternative. Though grass fields may appear to be cheaper and greener, they require water, fertilizer, mowing, and periodic rest. On the other hand, turf fields are made of synthetic materials, can be costly to install, and require disposal and replacement after several years of wear. So which is better for the environment?

BASF chemical company recently attempted to resolve that ongoing question. The company sponsored a study comparing the environmental and economic impact of synthetic turf fields with natural grass fields. The BASF Eco-Efficiency Analysis (EEA) measured life-cycle environmental impacts and life-cycle costs for AstroTurf systems and natural grass sports fields. The study evaluated the environmental impact of the production, use, and disposal of each system in the areas of energy and resource consumption, emissions, toxicity and risk potential, and land use. The EEA also evaluated the life cycle costs by calculating costs related to materials, labor, manufacturing, waste disposal, and energy. The eco-efficiency analysis was conducted over 18 months and was verified by NSF International, a non-profit, non-governmental organization.

The report compared natural grass playing surfaces to several synthetic playing surfaces manufactured by AstroTurf, including the GameDay Grass MT41 field, a system representative of the most common field installed in the United States over the past decade. The environmental burden was measured in 11 categories, some of which included primary energy consumption, raw material consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, ozone depletion potential, and risk potential. Economic metrics for the study included the real costs of creating and delivering the finished product, future costs, and costs having an ecological aspect. …

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